Next time you roll out a new product, you can have a 75 percent or better chance of success by using Google to measure your traffic. You can know exactly how much demand there is for your idea. You can test your headlines and copy and have your potential customers tell you exactly what kind of product they’re looking for.
And Google makes this far less expensive and far less risky than ever before.
How can you be sure there’s a more profitable marketing for your idea? Develop a product after your customers tell you what they want.
Let’s say you’re thinking about writing a software program for doing automotive repairs. It’s for do-it-yourself car enthusiasts, and it does engine diagnostics that help increase your fuel efficiency by five miles per gallon.
If a guy bought your software (which you haven’t written yet), he could buy a cable at Radio Shack, take his computer into his garage, hook it up to his car and your software would collect a load of data and display it on the screen. Your program would then tell the guy what to tweak in his engine.
Sounds like a great idea. But, how do you know there’s a market for this?
Fortunately, there’s a way to find out if there’s water in the swimming pool before you dive in. You certainly don’t want to spend weeks writing software if nobody’s going to buy it. So here’s what you do:
1. Write an ebook, white paper or guide. Call it “How to Use Engine Diagnostics to Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency by Five Miles per Gallon.” In it, you tell people how to do it the hard way. The whole routine that takes you three days, including the spreadsheet and the connector from Radio Shack.
2. Head over to Google and bid on starter keywords. Find all the major terms related to engine diagnostics.
3. Post an ad like this:
DIY Engine Diagnostics
Simple Procedure Improves
Your Car — 5 MPG or Better
On your landing page, you have a sales letter that tells website visitors about your ebook. You can also follow up with a series of emails that talk more about this.
- Get ideas and feedback from your readers.
- Sell the ebook. Or even give it away for free. But, not without a plan. While you’re marketing your ebook, you’re going to take the next step with your buyers.
- Test your customers’ response to your actual product idea. What do they say back to you? Are they interested? Do they pester you to find out when this will be available? Do they offer to pay you for it now, hoping to get first dibs on it when it comes out? If so, you know you’ve got a winner.
- Sell your product, and the dollars will come rolling in.
You’ve listened to your customers, you’ve put together a product in line with what they ask you for and you’ve proven to yourself that they’re interested. Now when you give them exactly what they want, you’ll make the cash register ring.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
What you learn when this doesn’t work the first time out
Now, what happens if it’s a flop?
Don’t cry in your milk — learn your lesson and get on with something else. You can come up with a new idea and test it for no great sum of money.
And what if the idea is only marginal? Play with it. Change your ad, change your landing page, fiddle with the title of your report or ebook, adjust the price if you sell it, give visitors incentives in exchange for lots of feedback and try again. If it still doesn’t work, move on. If you can clear out the bugs, then run like the wind.
Did you know that infomercials also run on this same premise? It costs $50,000 to $100,000 to produce an infomercial and run it for a few days. If the producer can get an 80 percent return on investment (i.e., only lose 20 percent) the first time out, he won’t scrap the project. He’ll play with the offer, the upsells, the testimonials and the other ingredients until he gets it above his break-even point. And he’s not afraid to cut his losses if he has to.
When you test ideas that don’t work, fail fast. Get it over with as quickly as possible. Spend the money, get the results, cut your losses and move on.
“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “I don’t have hundreds of dollars to blow on pre-testing. I can’t afford to do that.”
The reality is, you can’t afford not to. Spending those dollars and going into the red now could save you thousands of dollars later in botched advertising and mediocre returns and can prevent you from having to start again from scratch.